After The End

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 5 (v.1) - 5

Submitted: January 10, 2016

Reads: 167

Comments: 3

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Submitted: January 10, 2016

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The wind had vanished by the time night fell, leaving the evening warm and calm. Mila had built the fire and was keeping an eye on it, poking and feeding it as necessary. Caelan stood just outside the circle of light, grooming his horse. She could hear him talking quietly, an indistinct murmur of sound. Eventually he ambled over.

“You hungry?” he asked.

“Nah. I’m ok.” She still felt a little off from earlier. 

Caelan settled himself down.

“She’s a good horse, Friday,” he said, thoughtfully. “I reckon if you treat a horse right, they’ll always be there for you.” He chuckled quietly. “They’re much more reliable than people are, anyway.” 

“Friday?”

Caelan shrugged. “It was a riddle my mother used to tell me. Meant as a kind of joke.” Mila knew the one he meant. She’d never found it particularly amusing. “It’s a perfectly good name,” he added defensively. 

She shrugged a response. 

“Well, what do you call your horse?” he asked.

Mila never got too attached to her horses, especially as she didn’t usually have the same one for more than a couple of months. “Um… ‘Horse’?” She made it sound like a question.

Caelan gave her a withering look. “How inventive,” he said flatly, before smiling. “You need to lighten up a bit, poppet.”

“I told you not to call me that.”

They lapsed into silence and the night was quiet save for the flickering of the fire and the occasional ghostly cry of an animal in the distance. Mila picked at the long grass. “I’m sorry,” she said finally. “I’m not really used to… socialising.”

“Oh, don’t worry, neither am I,” came the easy reply. (Clearly this was not entirely true, but Mila appreciated the effort.) “I guess this kind of lifestyle is a pretty solitary game.”

“I guess so,” she echoed.

“What’s in it for you then?” he asked casually. “Why do you do it?”

“The money,” she admitted. “Isn’t that why you do it?”

“There are other ways to earn money,” he pointed out.

“Well maybe I’m good at what I do.”

“I’m not going to argue with you there. Although honestly, I wasn’t sure what to make of you the first time I saw you. How old are you anyway? Nineteen, twenty…?”

“I’m twenty-one actually,” she corrected, with only a hint of irritation. “I’m just older than I look.”

Caelan chuckled quietly, stopping only when she shot him a hard look. “Sorry,” he muttered.

“You can’t be much older,” she observed. “Twenty-four, twenty-five?”

“Maybe I’m older that I look,” he replied with a smile.

She looked away from him - his laid-back attitude was starting to grate with her.

“So have you worked it out yet?” She asked.

“What?”

“Have you worked out what to make of me?”

“I’ve worked out what I make of you,” he said. “The truth might be another matter entirely.”

“Go on then.” She couldn’t help feeling interested. She hadn’t been lying before - she wasn’t used to socialising. She wasn’t used to people generally. Suddenly she found herself feeling very intrigued by what her new companion might think of her.

“Well…” Caelan thought about it, sorting through his words, perhaps worried of upsetting her. “You’re a bit of a lone ranger. You hunt things for money, and this doesn’t seem to bother you much. And you’re a young woman.” He paused. “I might make a conclusion that you’ve been hurt in the past, and now you’re running from that hurt, and from that past. You hunt for the money, so perhaps you’re trying to pay someone off, or perhaps you’re hoping to buy some freedom, or some sanctuary, so that you can stop running.”

The fire was burning lower. Caelan turned away to toss a log on it. “Still,” he said quietly. “What do I know?”

Mila’s heart was beating strangely fast. She stared at the flames determinedly, trying not to let her troubled emotions be shown, emotions that she wasn’t even sure she could identify. The worrying truth of the matter was that Caelan’s words had been more accurate than he’d seemed to realise, and much closer to the truth than she’d expected.

“I’m sorry,” Caelan said gently. “I shouldn’t have said any of that. It was very rude of me.”

She didn’t know how to respond. Eventually she spoke. “Well perhaps someone who manages to infer all of that has some secrets of their own,” she said stiffly. “Why do you hunt vampires?”

She looked over at him, and suddenly he seemed to close in on himself, and the sparkle vanished from his eyes. “The money, of course,” he replied.

She smiled coldly before turning over into her blankets, some sixth sense inside of her giving her complete certainty in her whispered accusation:

“Liar.



© Copyright 2018 Amy R. Beckett. All rights reserved.

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